State of North America. At the 2001 census the population was equal to 30,007,094 residents, and to 32,268,000 based on 2005 estimates. The demographic trend remains relatively lively for a developed country: birth and death rates of 10.4 ‰ and 7.3 ‰ respectively (2004 data) and a slightly positive migratory balance (+ 0.5 %) bring the average annual increase to 0.9 %; a projection to 2025 foresees 36 millions of residents. The other socio-demographic indicators denote a consolidated well-being: infant mortality stands at purely physiological values (5 ‰) and the average life expectancy at birth (77 years for the male component, 82 for the female component) is among the highest. in the world. On the other hand, Canada occupies the third place – very close to Norway and Sweden – in the ranking of the UN human development index, which is based not only on the parameters of wealth but also on those of the quality of life. The ability to integrate foreign components (from traditional Chinese immigrants to Kurdish refugees), while respecting their cultural identities, guarantees further stability to the human structure.
Even the internal tensions between the Francophone and Anglophone groups – which in the last decades of the 20th century they had at times reached peaks of considerable harshness – they were brought back in terms of a civil confrontation, enhancing the possible convergences in a perspective of common interests. Nevertheless, the substantial abandonment of the independence policy by some sectors of the population of Québec (with a French-speaking majority) can be included among the causes of the change of government in that province following the local elections in April 2003, which saw the defeat of the separatist Parti Québécois and the success of the Parti Libéral du Québec. The latter subjected the administrative reorganization of the large urban areas implemented in 2000 by the previous government to a referendum, uniting numerous municipalities (of both linguistic groups) falling within the urban-industrial crowns of Montreal and of the provincial capital Québec: it is It thus happened that, while the majority of the population confirmed themselves in favor of the new administrative structure, 15 municipalities of Montreal, mainly Anglophone, were able to pronounce themselves for a return to autonomy, while in Québec only two municipalities, French-speaking, refused the aggregation.
A country with extraordinary resources, Canada tends to be considered – but not rightly – the shadow of the United States, its development certainly largely dependent on its proximity. Apart from the political autonomy that Canadian governments have always been able to express vis-à-vis those of the United States (demonstrated, still recently, by the different position taken with respect to military intervention in Irāq), it should be emphasized that, on the economic level, Canada has by now consolidated a post-industrial physiognomy that has led him from the role of supplier of raw materials to that, much more significant, of producer of advanced goods and services. Even the infrastructural policy, although conditioned by the geographical position and the latitudinal extension, has rather turned to organization of its vast territory as well as connections with the United States: this has favored greater integration of the central-northern and western regions, and has allowed the country to penetrate more and more substantially into the emerging Pacific area. This resulted in a positive convergence with the countries of that region of the world, which significantly attenuated the original imbalance of the economic center of gravity towards the megalopolis of the North-East of the United States.
The proximity to the United States weighed negatively on the occasion of the attacks of 11 September 2001, which caught the Canadian economy already in conditions of temporary recession and whose consequences had repercussions on the immediately following period. Symptomatic is the crisis in the IT and telecommunications sector, which became the driving force in the decade of the 20th century. and that, in 2001, it was losing over 10 % of its 300,000 jobs; overall, the unemployment rate peaked at 8 %. The primary surplus of the public budget was also less than since 1998 it had contributed to the reduction of the debt-to-GDP ratio. The growth rate of the latter was reduced by 4, 4 % in 2000 to ‘ 1.9 % in 2003, partly due to the appreciation of the Canadian dollar on the US, which curbed exports. There were other negative events such as the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic, which saw one of the major outbreaks in Toronto, with serious repercussions on tourist flows; and the discovery of cases of bovine infection in the province of Alberta, resulting in the closure of US borders to Canadian farm products.
However, the recovery was rapid: employment returned to growth and, with it, domestic demand and exports; the annual change in GDP was reported in 2004 to around 3 %. The Canada has returned, therefore, to show the structural solidity of its economy, which, in addition to the renewed attractiveness for foreign capital (thanks to the reduction of the tax burden), can count on the endogenous capabilities of a fabric of small and medium-sized enterprises, highly competitive in terms of both internationalization and innovation.
In 2004, the primary sector took part in the formation of GDP to the extent of 2.5 %, although by now it absorbed only 3 % of the workforce; the secondary remained close to 30 % (with 23 % of the employed); the rest was due to a decidedly advanced tertiary sector and, at the same time, capable of not excessively sacrificing public and social services, despite some restrictions in the health sector. The strengths of the production framework, all largely destined for export and served by an efficient logistics network, remain cereals (wheat: 24.5 million t, equal to over 4% of the world total), but above all iron ores, the products of the steel industry (16 million t of steel) and metallurgical industry (2.7 million t of aluminum, in fourth place in the world with 9 % of production overall), automotive and – as mentioned – electronics; moreover, among the energy sources, oil has largely exceeded 100 million t and natural gas 180 billion m 3. On the other hand, the traditional sectors of timber and derivatives as well as fishing tend to downsize, due to too intensive exploitation in the past, due to the impoverishment of the forest and fish heritage, subjected to careful environmental protection measures.
Interesting prospects derive from the hypothesis of extension of the NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) a Pan-American free trade area, this would allow for a greater diversification of trade relations, limiting the still very high incidence of the US partner; in any case, the opening on the Pacific has already made it possible to intensify trade with Japan, China and South Korea, while those with the European Union appear to be limited, with the exception of the United Kingdom. There is also a tendency to expand the scope of incoming tourist flows (equal to two thirds of the resident population, but once again made up mostly of cross-border tourism with the United States), using the immense availability of naturalistic and landscape resources, including in this case supported by the efficient organization of transport and services.